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Hey guys. I'm new to the forum and was looking for this subject but couldn't find it. Sorry If I'm posted something that's already been discussed. I own a brake shop in Austin, TX. We do anywhere from 10-20 brake jobs a day. We only do brakes so I don't know how much full service auto shops deal with this problem but... Customers are constantly calling in claiming they've bought the best parts or they want to provide their own parts because they've done research and know what is best. This drives me crazy. First of all they don't know whats best. Then after being told no they get offended and act like tons of shops allow this. What is the best way to handle these customers? Just send them away? I'll quote them a price using our parts and they act as though its a rip off. What shops are doing this for their customers? I feel like I'm letting jobs get away from me. Any experience with this?
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We all have our favorite customers. You know who there are. They’re the ones that throw their keys on the service counter in the morning and say, “Do what you need to do and I’ll see you at 5 p.m.” They never question your price, they trust you and they keep coming back. But does that person define your true profile customer? The answer is probably yes. But it’s not the only criteria. It’s a little more complicated than that. Defining your true profile customer starts with you. It starts with who you are, why you are in business and the culture of your company. By the way, determining your true profile customer has nothing to do with excluding certain people due to their income level. The young 23-year-old college graduate who sets aside part of her paycheck to shop at Whole Foods does so because she believes in the company and for what they stand. It’s not about what she “supposedly” can or cannot afford. She is Whole Foods’ profile customer because she aligns herself with that brand. And Whole Foods welcomes her with open arms. Many of my profile customers endured tough economic times during the Great Recession of 2008. They lost their ability to pay for some of the things they previously could afford. What they didn’t lose was their loyalty to my company. So, what did we do? We helped them through that difficult time. We helped them manage their car care needs better, offering services that would save on fuel, reduce repair costs, and reduce breakdowns. We showed them how to squeeze every mile out of their tires and brakes. We took care of them and we still do to this day. We consider them family and we don’t turn our backs on family. One thing we didn’t do, and will never do, is compromise on price to get a job. That would not be fair to all my customers, my employees or the company. With regard to pricing your services and repairs, it’s a delicate balance between being profitable and competitive. But I don’t know of any shop that prefers a customer walk away or sends someone to another shop because he or she cannot afford a particular price. A smart service advisor will give options, prioritize the work needed, and offer finance options. If you’re a startup company, your doors are wide open to everyone. You need customers and car counts, and you need them right away. But as your business matures, you begin to realize that not everyone is your customer. And there’s nothing wrong with this realization. As you build your customer base, you begin to see that there are customers that respect the work you do, align themselves with your culture and appreciate what you do for them and for the community. They become your profile customers. Let’s say you sponsor a youth baseball team in your area, help out at community events and involved with local fundraisers. You will become known as the business person that cares about the community and children. That’s making your business stand out among the rest. As you define who you are, you also attract those that want to do business with you and support your brand. While I do recommend treating everyone the same, I don’t recommend trying to be everything to everyone. That’s not a sound marketing strategy—that’s a recipe for failure. Defining your customer and targeting your market does not isolate consumers. It actually increases market share. Here’s an important fact: In your geographical area, automotive shops basically do the same thing; they repair and service automobiles. So, how is a consumer going to choose you over another? You need to stand out. You need to be different. You need to build a brand culture and establish a marketing position that will make people take notice. By the way, every successful company, large and small, understands its true profile customer and creates a marketing plan on attracting them. One last thing: When you build a business around your culture, you put the focus on your brand and the value you provide. This strategy is one of your pathways to success. When you combine value with culture, you will have an enduring and profitable company. If you want to build a great company, ask yourself these questions: Why are you in business? What’s your life’s purpose? Your culture? Build a marketing strategy and a brand message around the answers to these questions. Not all people will take notice, but your profile customers will. This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on August 3, 2018
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Picture This Years ago my younger brother came to work for me. He didn’t know a thing about cars, but was willing to learn all he could. Teaching new techs is an art that most shop owners have to learn to do, but teaching your little brother can be a chore and can test your patience. I muddled thru it all and taught him what I could. I was sure at some point in time the two of us would butt heads like brothers will do, and he would take his new found skills and move up in the rank and files of the automotive technical world, but in the meantime it was his turn to learn from his older brother. When he first started I would walk him through each step of how to diagnose a certain system in a car. A lot of times he would have questions, and I’d do my best to answer them. He learned quickly and was really sharp at picking up some of those little details that are harder to teach. You know things like how you held a certain wrench or used a certain tool, to you and me it’s no big deal. But to a novice, it’s a revelation, then you (I) tend to forget to mention those certain traits while you’re teaching. Mainly because you are trying to get to the solution as efficiently as possible, and you neglect to bring it up. Such as: “always test your test light connection before testing what you’re testing, or don’t forget to check for all your tools before you pull the car out of the shop….” Things like that. One day we had a truck come in with dual fuel tanks on it. The gas gauge wasn’t working and needed some attention. This was a perfect opportunity for Junior to learn a few of my short cuts on these old models. It was an older Ford, in which the tank gauge ran thru the tank switchover button. It was rather easy to pull it out of the dash and connect to the gauge from the back of the switch. Luckily it was the typical problem I’ve seen a hundred times in the past. The switch connections would melt and the tank wouldn’t switch from the front tank to the rear, and of course the gauge wouldn’t move either. After locating the correct leads to the gauge and to the tanks I decided to show him how the gauge worked. I hooked up the one of the tanks to the crossover lead that would supply the signal from the tank to the gauge. “Ya see this, that’s the lead to the fuel gauge in the dash, and this is one of the tank wires. I’ll connect these together and we should get a reading on the dash,” I told him. He was watching intently, taking in all the wiring diagram information, the location of the wires, and how I was bypassing the switch. He was fascinated with the flow of the current and the way the gauge would respond. I even went as far as moving the gauge from full to empty by opening and closing it to a ground signal. While I had his attention I filled him in on the two types of gauges that were used back then (bimetallic and magnetic) and how low resistance on a bimetal type gauge would read near a full tank, while a magnetic gauge would read close to empty. Change the resistance and the gauge would/should read accordingly. “So, if we put gas in the tank the gauge should move right? That way we could check the sending units in the tanks too,” he asked me. “Great idea, grab a gas can and let’s add a few gallons,” I said, excited that he was so interested in the project. He grabbed a can of gas and poured a few gallons in the tank. I was watching the gas guage carefully, but there was no movement. I knew I was on the right wires, but nothing was happening. Now what? Are there more problems? “Crawl under there, and check to be sure the wire color is correct,” I yelled from the cab to him. “Yep, it’s the right wire on the tank.” “Well, we might have to pull the tank; it’s not changing the gauge readings up here.” “Before we do that let’s add some more gas, maybe we didn’t add enough,” Junior tells me. I thought I better go back and help hold the funnel, while he poured the gas in the tank. Unknowing to me, all this time my wife (who was the office manager) was listening in on the whole thing. She likes to keep tabs on me, and make sure I’m not going into one of my usual rants or having a fit because I had to explain something over and over again to little brother. This time she was standing at the corner of the shop just behind the truck with a camera. “CLICK”, I heard the camera shutter go off and she was back there laughing like there was no tomorrow. “What’s so funny?” I asked her. “You two idiots have been putting gas in the wrong tank. You’re on the front tank, and you’re putting gas in the rear tank,” my wife answers, laughing hysterically. About then the camera “clicked” again… this time it was an action shot taken at precisely the exact moment when these two idiots had that dumb struck look on their faces and realized what they just did. The shot had both of us on our knees, one holding a funnel and the other with the half empty gas can, and both of us staring right into the camera lens. Couldn’t have set it up any better if you tried. The picture clearly showed the side of the truck with both fuel tank doors visible and there was no doubt which tank we were putting in the extra gas. I guess it was one of those things I should have mentioned when we were checking the tank senders… make sure we are both on the same tank. For years that picture hung over her desk, and anytime I thought I was so smart she would point at the photo. Usually with that typical smirk, usually shaking her finger at me and of course the laugh… she had to laugh, but it wasn’t all that funny until she had me laughing about it too. Ok, Ok, I’m not perfect... and now my little brother knows it too. These days he’s a top notch tech at a dealership, and I have to call him on occasions for some help on how to solve things once in a while. Oh the photo… uhmmm… what photo?? Somehow it’s missing… haven’t seen the darn thing in years. But I guess I really don’t need to see the photo … the wife has a pretty good memory... she reminds me just how smart I think I am every chance she gets. Click here to view the article
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We want to start offering finance options to our customers. Can anyone recommend some companies that you use? I've heard good things about One Road Lending. GE Capital is now Synchrony and they have horrible reviews. Appreciate your help! Thanks, Pam
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The following are posts I made on the AOCA website outlining an issue(potential nightmare) we had on 2017 Chevrolet Colorado: Randy_Lucyk
Joined: Dec 21, 2011
Total Posts: 83 Feb 8, 2018 3:03 PM Unfortunately, I believe this is exactly what this may turn into for shops and consumers. We recently had a report of an oil filter failure on a 2017 Chevrolet Colorado with 13304 miles on the truck and the issue occurred 400 miles after our oil change. Customer had a check engine light come on so he headed right off to the dealer to have it checked under warranty. It had a VVT code stored and the dealer started looking into the issue. They found the filter failure and sent a picture of the image off to the customer. We used a Performax P0171 filter. The customer sent me the attached image of the obviously failed filter. I am immediately highly concerned, but the dealer is being unusually understanding of the failure. We spend some time with the service manager and find out that their appears to be an issue starting to show up on these vehicles, where the stand pipe in the filter housing is coming off with the old filter and being disposed of without the techs knowledge. We had great video of the oil change and their was nothing visible with the old filter as it was removed. The premises is that without the standpipes restricting/diverting functionality in place, full oil flow is blowing out the filter and the everything flows right down the filter housing port into the cylinder heads and remainder of the motor and plugs up components and passages. We asked for a picture of the filter housing and received image 2 attached. This appears that it may be a problem starting in 17 model year, but i can't be sure of that yet. I am digging for additional info now and will update as more information becomes available. Randy_Lucyk
Joined: Dec 21, 2011
Total Posts: 83 Feb 9, 2018 7:59 AM This appears to be both a GM issue and a in-shop issue.
Now that I see the notification GM released last week, i believe this issue occurred at the original oil change prior to the one we did. As I said, we had great video of the open end of the old filter as we removed it from the vehicle and I don't believe this stand pipe could have possibly been inside. Their is also no evidence of the tech struggling with anything "down in there" other then the normal A/C line interference issue. .
Looking at the design and the A/C line interference, I suspect that the stand pipe is being knocked loose as the filter is being "angled" around the A/C lines to get the old one out. I suspect the oring on the stand pipe is the only thing holding it in the oil filter housing. Once the standpipe is disposed of, the housing has to be replaced, as the stand pipe is not available separately. The housings are in short supply with only three left in the country on dealers shelves and none in Gm distribution centers. Their is a new part number for the housing and those are not available yet. Original pt# 12675707 and new pt# 12682014.
Looking at the attached illustrations and notice, it would not be easy to completely miss the fact that a problem was evident. The stand pipe looks too big to me to be easily missed. I suspect it is plastic and the words "housing cracked" was mentioned in the conversation with the service manager. I wonder if the stand pipe is actually cracking during removal of the filter, making it difficult/impossible to reinstall. If we did not do it, then why the old filter had not failed yet ours did, comes into question. Cold weather "full oil flow" was also mentioned in the conversation with the service manager, and those were the conditions at the time of the failure.
The images also create some questions for me. The new housing does not appear to be identical to the OE installed housing, so is it an already redesigned housing? The filter bulletin in the Napa/Wix box talks about an update to the filter to include a check valve in the top of the filter. Our old filter does not appear to have this check valve, the Napa/Wix does and our new stock P0171 filters also have it. Looking at the design of the stand pipe in the new housing, it would almost appear that the small nipple on the end of the stand pipe might make more sense if it fit into the open hole of the old filter. The stand pipe design almost seems wrong for the filter with the check valve, unless it is shorter than it looks and never reaches the upper end of the filter. Would be great if the next shop to have one of these off would post some additional pics to try and help reduce confusion.
Based on the notice from Gm, this does indeed look like it could get ugly. Although, this dealer covered all the extensive engine repairs under warranty(heads pulled, all new timing components, cleaning passages), i am not convinced all dealers will take that approach. In my case, it was nice(incredible?) to see GM step up and take responsibility. It helped that my customer (owner of the Colorado) retired from a GM primary supplier dealing with issues exactly like this for the later half of his career. He knew the right people to call to get the info needed to drill down to the root cause.
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